UPDATE: The City of Vero Beach Canvassing Board will certify election results and swear in its new City Council members at 10 a.m. on Nov. 17 and a mayor and vice mayor will be chosen at that time. A previous version of this story stated that meeting would take place on Nov. 18.
VERO BEACH — Instead of choosing three candidates who are ideologically aligned on most issues, Vero Beach voters went with two known quantities in incumbents Jay Kramer and Pilar Turner, plus newcomer Randy Old.
Turner and Kramer will begin their third terms on Nov. 17 when Vero swears in the new council and elects a mayor and vice mayor.
“That has always been my concern in running for office – to secure the financial security of the city,” said re-elected Turner on why she sought a third term and why she thinks voters want her back in her council seat. “Whether it’s the electric issue, whether it’s the huge pension liability and other post employment benefits that we’re facing – still it’s to keep us on a strong financial basis.”
In place of two-time mayor Craig Fletcher, who did not seek re-election, voters chose Old for the open seat.
Old, upon seeing the initial returns from absentee and early voting, said, “So far, I’m encouraged. It’s better than being last. But this being my first time, I really don’t know how much it means. I’m hearing from people that it’s good news.”
Old spent election night at his Riomar home with about 40 supporters, including Mayor Dick Winger, who had endorsed Old when he announced his candidacy over the summer.
Rounding out the pack of seven candidates are Brian Heady, Harry Howle, Charlie Wilson and Jack Shupe.
Harry Howle said he would run again, “if the city needs me to be an honest voice,” but said that he would get up Wednesday morning and get back to work. “I’m going to sell insurance – I’m going to give my clients some attention,” Howle said.
Retired cartographer Jack Shupe watched returns from home with his wife, but did not answer repeated telephone calls requesting comment about his defeat.
Kramer, Old and Shupe were the chosen candidates of the Indian River Neighborhood Association, which, through its political committee, spent big bucks advertising on their behalf.
Turner, Wilson and Howle were backed by the contingent of the community still hopeful that a solution can be found to extricate Vero Beach from the electric business.
Howle and Turner also received support from prominent Indian River Tea Party members, Turner based upon her efforts to streamline city services and demand accountability for tax dollars, and Howle based upon his expressed fiscal conservatism.
At the Indian River Republican victory party at the Vero Beach home of Carole Jean Jordan, the GOP faithful gathered to watch returns, until technical glitches left them wondering after early results were posted how the Vero Beach City Council election would shake out.
Jordan, wife of the late former Vero mayor Bill Jordan, is a veteran of city politics.
“This race is important because of the local issues,” she said. “Obviously the local issues are very interesting. We have a huge responsibility taking back the management of the city and not just the power plant.”
“Everything people come to Vero Beach for is located in the city,” Jordan said. “So much of what we are is in the city.”
Rep. Debbie Mayfield, who won her re-election handily, said Kramer is “an unknown about selling the power plant. He said he was for it before but changed his mind later.”
Coming in last, Brian Heady said, “Would I have liked to have won? Yes. Am I gonna lose sleep over it? No. The only time I ever lost sleep over an election is when I won.”
“They need an independent voice on that council and they didn’t get one,” Heady said.
“At least I am done,” Wilson said, indicating that his political ambitions are at an end. “I have spent 10 percent of my life working on the sale of the electric utility and that is enough. Now, I don’t have to go down and argue with the City Council anymore.”
Here’s how the voters cast their ballots:
City of Vero Beach City Council (Vote up to 3)
- Jack Shupe – 1,939
- Brian Heady – 1,434
- Harry Howle – 2,093
- Pilar Turner – 2,637
- Charlie Wilson – 1,983
- Jay Kramer – 2,746
- Randy Old – 2,716
Vero Beach Charter Amendment: Shall City Charter Section 5.05 be amended as provided in Ordinance 2014-11 to add the following properties to limit their sale, lease, trade or gift, with listed exceptions, correct certain park names, and delete obsolete language:
Crestlawn Cemetery, Old City Nursery, Block Manor Park, Charles Park, Jacoby Park, Alex MacWilliam Boat Basin Park, Piece of Pie Park, Pine Terrace Park, Royal Palm Pointe Park, Van Busch Park, Lake Rose, Leisure Square, Michael Field.
- Yes – 4,288
- No – 1,223